Wine List Design and Staff Training

Wine List Design and Staff Training

Before my career as a Wine Distributor I worked in a number of 'hatted' restaurants and quickly discovered my passion for wine and became a "Sommelier". Here are the my top five wine list mistakes I have made along the way...   

1. Listing wines solely on the basis of merit and quality - I soon found myself with a list skewed towards $100+ wines. So it is important to realise that your opinion is not the only one that matters and to cover all the price points and main categories. If your wine list starts a $60 Pinot Noir, then you should offer a $70 Pinot Noir before a adding a $80 Pinot and so on and so on or you get in a situation of having a cluster of Pinots above $100 and big price gaps at the lower end.

2. Choose wines for your customers and not just yourself - Not so long ago there was a backlash against Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc and I know a few Sommeliers who refused to list these wines. The simple fact is that if you think you know better and deny customers what they want, they will go elsewhere.

3. Support your locals - Tourists and locals who visit your restaurant want to support local wineries. Remember shipping wines around the world adds 15% to their cost and reduces their value.

4. Support small wineries and distributors - By listing brands sold by commercial wineries you have to be careful of where else they are sold and at what price? If a customer sees a wine on your list and pulls out his phone and finds it 70% cheaper online then the restaurant looks over priced.

5. After using Word for many years I changed to Excel to write my wine lists - It creates even columns for vintages, descriptions, regions and pricing. Also, you can use hidden columns to check that the costs and margins are correct both by bottle and glass.

I hope you found this short blog entertaining and maybe even helpful. Kingfisher wines is always available to support its partners with wine list advise if ever asked.


Staff wine training is an important part of arming your floor staff with the knowledge and confidence to recommend and upsell wines to customers.

They also need to be aware of how to serve wines correctly. How to correctly open a cork or champagne bottle.

To understand the basic faults (Corked, Oxidised, Volatile Acidity or Brettanomyces) and the procedures on how to deal with them.

Wine appreciation is an enjoyable part of the training, but it needs to be tailored to the service of wine. A good understanding of the characteristics of the wine styles, varietals, regions, vintages and winemaking techniques will help staff share their passion and interest with customers.

As a ex-Sommelier I can help with most questions and always happy to help out whenever asked!